2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 13 Friday 17 December 2021

On Working Out our own Salvation –  Part 4 (Final)(Philippians 2:12-13)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

Reflection

Q: If it is God that worked in us both to will and to act, what need is there of our working? Does not his working thus supersede the necessity of our working at all? Does it not render our working impracticable, as well as unnecessary?

A. Not at all. If we consider the matter more deeply. We shall then see there is no opposition between these, “God works; therefore, do we work;” First, God works; therefore you can work. Secondly, God works, therefore you must work.

Q: What does it mean by God works, therefore you CAN work?

A: It is impossible for any man, for any that is born of a woman, unless God work in him. Seeing all men are by nature not only sick, but “dead in trespasses and sins,” it is not possible for them to do anything well till God raises them from the dead. It was impossible for Lazarus to come forth, till the Lord had given him life. Therefore inasmuch as God works in you, you are now able to work out your own salvation. Since he worketh in you of his own good pleasure, without any merit of yours, both to will and to do, it is possible for you to fulfil all righteousness. It is possible for you to “love God, because he hath first loved us;” and to “walk in love,” after the pattern of our great Master.

Q: What does it mean by God works, therefore you MUST work? A:  You must be “workers together with him,” (they are the very words of the Apostle,) otherwise he will cease working. Even St. Augustine, who is generally supposed to favour the contrary doctrine, makes that just remark, Qui fecit nos sine nobis, non salvabit nos sine nobis:+ “He that made us without ourselves, will not save us without ourselves.” He will not save us unless we “save ourselves from this untoward generation;” unless we ourselves “fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life; “unless we “agonize to enter in at the straight gate,” “deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily,” and labour by every possible means to “make our own calling and election sure.”

Prayer

Say with our blessed Lord, though in a somewhat different sense, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” In consideration that he still worketh in you, be never “weary of well-doing.”

Go on, in virtue of the grace of God, preventing, accompanying, and following you, in “the work of faith, in the patience of hope, and in the labour of love.” “Be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” And “the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep,” (Jesus,) “make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you what is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever!” AMEN.

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